Image courtesy of The New Yorker
By Margaret Adams
Wes Anderson returns to the big screen with The French dispatch, a wonderful and inspired film about storytelling and nostalgia.
The story follows the death of Arthur Horowitz, Jr., played by Bill Murray, who was the editor of a newspaper named The French dispatch. The rest of the editorial staff decide to publish a commemorative edition of the journal, which includes three of the best stories of the past decade. The film takes place in Ennui-sur-Blasé in France, the city from which the magazine comes out.
This movie features one of the most incredible actors I’ve ever witnessed: not only are there reappearances of regular Anderson actors, like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Saorise Ronan, but it also has performances by Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand, Jeffery Wright, Adrian Brody, Elizabeth Moss, Willam Dafoe, Benicio Del Toro, Jason Schwartsmann, Henry Winkler, Lois Smith and Anjelica Huston.
The film is a collection of three different stories, written by the writers of The French dispatch, inspired by their experiences. The stories are all linked by ideas of love and passion for the art and the belief in doing the right thing.
The film is based on The New Yorkerthe founder and publisher of, Harold Ross, who let his famous team of writers write their own way. All three stories were inspired by real stories written by the team of writers led by Harold Ross, including James Baldwin, Mavis Gallant and AJ Leibling.
While Anderson’s films are always a pleasure to watch, there is so much about this film that is different from Anderson’s previous works; one of the most shocking differences is its availability to the imagination. While Anderson always portrays a clear vision and is notoriously mission-oriented in every shot, this film allows viewers to indulge in nostalgia in a little weird and personal way.
This brings us to one of the most important ideas: the privacy of the details. The details of Anderson’s films – with the setting, the directing, the delivery of the lines, the color scheme – are what brings us so close and makes us more personal. Nostalgia is an important theme throughout the film; while viewers might not feel nostalgic for the same things Anderson portrays, we still recognize and feel nostalgia through these choices. Anderson thus continues to meet his audience in detail.
Some of the best performances throughout the film were Frances McDormand and Jeffery Wright. These two particularly stood out because they were both able to retain so much onscreen control, despite Anderson’s clear, recognizable, and specific direction; McDormand commanded the stage even when it wasn’t even central! Wright also delivered his lines beautifully, making his story one of the favorites of the three main stories.
One of the best parts of the movie is the score. The score accompanies and elevates the details that Anderson places so particularly throughout. The peak piano solidifies and helps convey emotions throughout the film, making it continuous and fluid what could easily have been so jarring and detached. To put it simply, Alexandre Desplat never fails.
The experience of watching this movie is one that I will always remember – viewers will walk out of the movie theater full of love and appreciation for language and beauty and the responsibility of rhetoric.
As Sheila O’Malley put it in her review from the movie, “[i]It’s a crazy fast-paced movie about a very slow and unchanging world.
The French dispatch is currently playing in theaters around the world.